Nanny State

Helmet Optional

Less money, fewer laws


The annual tax revenue of Milton, Washington, dropped from $4.9 million in 2010 to a projected $3.9 million this year. Unlike many other units of government in the United States today, the small town of 7,000 souls has responded to tight finances by doing less.

In addition to cutting deals with neighboring towns to provide firefighting and library services, Milton axed its activities director. When an insurance consultant pointed out that unenforceable laws are a liability risk, the city council repealed many of them, including one requiring bicycle riders to wear helmets.

"Of course you should wear a helmet," Mayor Debra Perry told The New York Times in June. "But this is a parents issue—parents need to be supervising their children, making sure their children are well dressed and have helmets on. Wearing flip-flops and shorts and no helmets on skateboards and bikes is just stupid."